Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi smiles on the cover of this week's OK! Magazine, but her message is one of pain and heartbreak. The Jersey Shore star reveals details of her high school battle with anorexia and bulimia.
The 4'9" reality star said she barely ate meals other than lunch -- and even then, it was just salads."It got so crazy that I would only eat a cracker or a cucumber a day and I would feel full... I would go into the nurse's office every day and I would weigh myself. When the school nurse realized that I hit 80 pounds, she was like 'This isn't good.'"
The 22-year-old fist-pumper thinks her stint as a cheerleader left her vulnerable to body image problems, as the other girls on her squad all seemed thinner and prettier.
Last week, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino made fun of Snooki's weight (he mocked her "rolls"), a comment that would bring many women to tears, even those who haven't struggled with an eating disorder.
One would think that when a public figure has the courage to share such a private, highly stigmatized battle, she would be greeted with warmth and compassion. One would be wrong. Cele|bitchy refers to her as the Strange Orange Potato (SOP), sniping, "Oh, honey. NO. No one who is that f-cking orange has a positive self-image. She once buried her feelings in self-abuse by sticking her finger down her throat, and now she buries her feelings in layers of orange. But, hey, the poof is gone, right? Baby steps."
Spiteful comments online have included, "Perhaps she was just puking from being drunk and mistook it for an eating disorder?" and "80 lbs is not too thin for that height at all! And she looks perfectly healthy in that before pic. Also, if she was anorexic, she wouldn't have been drinking regular Coke... someone with an eating disorder would never dream of drinking that."
These haters are missing the point completely. It doesn't matter if 80 pounds is a healthy weight for someone Snooki's height. The fact is, it wasn't healthy for her, as evidenced by the fact that she had to restrict her dietary intake to produce and then throw it up in order to maintain it. There are surely other 4'9" women who easily maintain 80 pounds; others might have a set point of 90 or 100.
This snarky public commentary reminded me of an email I received last week from Brooke Kalanick, ND, a naturopathic physician I recently interviewed for an iVillage slideshow entitled, "Gluten-Free, Fat-Free and Other Labels That Hinder Weight Loss." Kalanick is the coauthor of a new book, Ultimate You: A 4-Phase Total Body Makeover for Women Who Want Maximum Results (Rodale Books, 2010), but she was devastated to read some nasty bodysnarking comments aimed at her on Amazon, which slammed her for being too plump to have written an effective fat loss program.
"I'm a regular woman who eats well and workouts regularly... and I've had my share of body image issues," Kalanick writes on her blog. http://betterbydrbrooke.wordpress.com/ "As I've grown from a girl into a woman, I've laid [those issues to rest] and reveled in the fact that I can lift weights with the boys, do a few pull-ups and have even come to appreciate the shape my curves give me. But I'll admit, when I read '...the fat neck and cheeks of Dr. Kalanick...' -- all those issues came flooding back.
Now, maybe you've never had your issues called out on the World Wide Web, but most of us at one time or another has been the victim of someone's nastiness -- whether their words were true or not, it feels like crap. You can shrug it off and say "That person's a jerk, so what?" But let's be honest, the biggest trash talk usually comes from our own heads. "Fat neck? Ha! What an amateur. I've probably done better than that in the last hour or so."
Kalanick wisely points out how easy it is to read someone else's nasty comments and realize they're being heartlessly cruel... yet quite often, we're hurling the very same insults at ourselves. We saw this phenomenon carried out Monday night on Thintervention, when Jackie Warner had her clients bring a picture of themselves as a child in a happy moment to therapy. She then asked each of them what kind thing they would say to their younger selves. The reason: "You would never speak to a child the way you speak to yourselves," Jackie explained. For example, you would never call a toddler a fat pig with disgusting thighs, but how many grown women say such hurtful things to themselves? A lot.
We know Snooki has beat herself up with harsh words and "I'm disgusting" thoughts, as has Kalanick. Just because they've recovered and matured doesn't mean they're now magically immune to such insults being hurtled at them from pathetic online strangers hiding behind a screen name. I wish them both the best in their journey towards self-acceptance. Kalanick seems to be on track:
"Like yours, my journey to the perfect body goes on and on, and I can love myself on that journey, nourish myself, be healthy and not give in to nasty comments -- including those in my own head -- or dwell on the opinion of someone who clearly doesn't cherish me. But you know what? That's ok. It's not their job to cherish me, it's mine."